BWW Review: Fine Performances Propel THE REALISTIC JONESES

THE REALISTIC JONESES is a play by Will Eno. It opened on Broadway in 2014 after premiering in 2012 at the Yale Repertory Theater. Eno has said that he wrote the play because he "'wanted to really just write a naturalistic and realistic play." What he has created plays more like deeply melancholy sitcom. While there are lots of laughs to be found in this 90 minute slice-of-life, they come from a surreal sense of awkwardness that allows the audience to connect to the intense loneliness that permeates these four people's lives.

THE REALISTIC JONESES gives the audience a look at their next door neighbors... those people you really don't know. It allows us to examine what we think we know to be truth along with raising the possibility that we may share some secret with them. Illness, or maybe just mortality, is at the core of this script: Two couples, both with the last name Jones, are at different points along the paths of the husbands coping with the same terminal disease. There isn't really a plot. There's no tidy resolution. It ends with the four characters on a good day still no surer of what the future may hold for them than when it began. While this may sound like a downer, it really isn't. Director Ken Webster and an outstanding cast make certain that humor and poignancy are served in equal proportions.

Bob Jones (Ken Webster) and his wife Jennifer (Rebecca Robinson) and their new next-door neighbors, John (Benjamin Summers) and Pony Jones (Jess Hughes) performances speak right to the core of how people wade their way through whatever life deals them. As Jennifer says to her husband: "We're... I don't know... throwing words at each other." But, in the hands of these four performers, the words are bandied about exquisitely. Every performer has their moments of pain that are also beautifully and movingly expressed.

Webster has staged the piece with a great efficiency and pacing, moving the evening along. While a great deal of the action (or lack thereof) is static, he has made sure that it is never boring. Mark Pickell has created another excellent urban environment which has been beautifully lighted by Don Day.

In many ways, Eno's work reminds me of Eugène Ionesco. In particular, I was reminded of The Bald Soprano, not for the absurdist elements, but rather from the way both spoke to the futility of meaningful communication in modern society.

THE REALISTIC JONESES by Will Eno

Running time: Approximately 90 Minutes with no intermission

THE REALISTIC JONESES, produced by Hyde Park Theatre (511 W. 43rd St, Austin, TX, 78751) Performances through March 26th, 2016. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm. Thursdays are pay-what-you-can nights at the door. For the first four weeks (February 25 - March 19) Friday tickets are $22 and Saturday tickets are $24. For the final weekend (March 24 - 26), Friday tickets are $24 and Saturday tickets are $26. $2 OFF for students, seniors, military, and Austin Creative Alliance members every Friday and Saturday.

Tickets: http://hydeparktheatre.org or call 512-479-PLAY (7529) for reservations.



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From This Author Frank Benge